“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 2 Cor. 5:10 NKJV
Everyone is appointed a day in which he or she will bow before the Lord and be judged/examined. Three distinct judgments are in the future. The judgment to which a person will go, whether he or she likes it or not, depends upon the age in which the person lived and whether he or she was a believer. Jesus Christ is the Judge for every human being; He will be fair and just. The Judgment Seat of Christ is the judgment believers in the Age of Grace will attend, whether they have died or are alive. Unbelievers will be judged at a different time. The JSC is in heaven immediately after the Rapture. We will be given new, glorified bodies when we are taken up at the Rapture. The JSC is about rewards and praise; a person’s sins (even those done in secret) are not the issue. God’s love and grace are inconsistent with the notion of reviewing our past, hidden sins. The JSC and Rapture are events that should cause no fear or worry.
This study will present what happens at the JSC. Everyone at the JSC is saved and is there to be examined for rewards. We are given rewards and praised, but for what? Will our bad deeds be weighed against our good deeds to determine our rewards? Are our rewards based upon how well we followed certain rules of do’s and don’ts (don’t drink, smoke, cuss, dance, chew, or run around with those that do)? The most important item to discuss is the pesky issue of our past lives. The Bible mentions our good and bad, and the hidden things of darkness, in relationship to our appearing before Him. A casual reading of the Bible seems to support the view our secrets sins are brought into the open. Yet, how can that be true if we are already forgiven and justified? It seems there is terrible misunderstanding as to what the Bible really is teaching, and you may be surprised to learn the basis for your rewards.
What Are Our Rewards?
In the Roman world, the winner of a sporting contest was often given a garland or wreath as a public honor. The Apostle Paul uses that picture of public honor in reference to the Judgment Seat of Christ—a place for deciding the rewards a believer is to receive. On earth, contestants win a corruptible crown; in contrast, our heavenly crowns will be eternal and imperishable, “For everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown” (1 Cor. 9:25). The nature of these imperishable crowns is not as clear as we wish, but surely the Lord knows what is best, most esteemed, and of lasting value. The Bible does indicate our everlasting crowns relate to righteousness, rejoicing, ruling, praise, and so on.
The word crown is figurative for a deeper spiritual reality; one such reality is righteousness. “Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Tim. 4:8). We see that anyone who loves His appearing will receive this crown. Paul mentions another crown, a crown of rejoicing, based upon the people who trusted in Christ through his ministry, “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? For you are our glory and joy” (1 Thes. 2:19-20). Our figurative crowns, or rewards, also relate to receiving authority to rule and reign over the world and angels (1 Cor. 6:2-3). A fantastic reward is each person will receive praise from God: “Then each one’s praise will come from God” (1 Cor. 4:5b).
There is no greater feeling than when a loved one or authority figure gives a person praise. In Heaven, the object of our love and the Supreme Authority, gives us praise. There are, no doubt, many more rewards than indicated above, but this example gives you an idea of what believers receive. When you think about it, this is exactly what we have always wanted: eternal life, righteousness, glory, joy, authority to rule and reign, praise…3. God gives us precisely what will provide satisfaction, contentment, value, and joy in every aspect of our eternal lives. He gives us an eternity of peace; enables us to be forever full of joy; assures us a position of great authority and accomplishment; makes certain our lives have real importance and worth; and, on top of it all, the Almighty gives us praise.
The Bad Things We Have Done
The purpose of the JSC is found in 2 Cor. 5:10: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (also see Rom. 14:10). The phrase, “the things done in the body,” is generally understood to be our lives upon the earth, perhaps specifically referring to what we have done in the Body of Christ—the body of believers. The good things we have done will receive rewards. The real stickler in this verse is that some of what we do is good and some appears to be bad. Does that mean God will punish us for those bad things, or perhaps take a reward away for each bad thing done?
The reference to “good or bad” certainly seems to imply we will be held accountable in some manner for our sins, that is, our sins are forgiven but we have to pay for their consequences by loss of reward in Heaven. It is hard to grasp how they can be forgiven, to be remembered no more, yet there are consequences. Heaven is not like earth, where we can forgive someone but there may still be civil-legal consequences. Similarly on earth, we can be forgiven by God, but still suffer the earthly consequences of our sins: for example, if our sin resulted in a venereal disease. However, any consequences for sins in Heaven, at the final reckoning, are a moot issue; there are none! All our sins were placed upon the Savior to be remembered no more.
3 Our rewards are given in Heaven. Earthly Kingdom believers (non-Age of Grace) have their rewards preserved in Heaven now; they will be given out at the First Resurrection on earth. The FR rewards are much like ours, see the Beatitudes (Matt. 5:3-11): comfort, inheritance, righteousness, mercy, seeing God, and become sons.
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